Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA/Japan, 1970. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Elmo Williams, Richard Fleischer, Toei Company. Screenplay by Larry Forester, Hideo Oguni, Ryuzo Kikushima, based on the novel Tora! Tora! Tora! by Gordon W. Prange and the novel The Broken Seal by Ladislas Farago. Cinematography by Charles F. Wheeler, Masamichi Satoh, Shinsaku Himeda, Osamu Furuya. Produced by Elmo Williams. Music by Jerry Goldsmith. Production Design by Richard Day, Taizo Kawashima, Yoshiro Muraki, Jack Martin Smith. Costume Design by Courtney Haslam. Film Editing by Pembroke J. Herring, Shinya Inoue, James E. Newcom. Academy Awards 1970. National Board of Review Awards 1970.
The attack on Pearl Harbour is memorialized in a giant epic project that sees American and Japenese studios admirably joining forces. The Japanese sections (originally to be directed by Akira Kurosawa) see the nation gearing up for a carefully prepared and meticulously planned attack on the Hawaiian military base, anxious to get America involved in the war occurring everywhere else in the world. Meanwhile, on American shores (directed by Richard Fleischer), uniformed men debate attacks in between missed opportunities in diplomacy with Japanese contacts, suspicions arising of an attack but none taken too seriously. When the bombs descend and chaos breaks loose, the film is an incredibly impressive collection of scenes of battle, with thrilling, Oscar-winning special effects taking you right into the heart of the situation and convincing you that you are really there. Unfortunately, that’s the last half hour of a more than two hour long film, and the sequences leading up to the exciting conclusion are primarily wooden conversations that raise no pulse in terms of character or conflict. In accomplishing accuracy the filmmakers have robbed the story of any flavor; on the other hand, Michael Bay’s attempt to improve on the matter was far worse.